Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Lessons Must Be Learnt

Player of the season Matt Ritchie is the latest linked with an exit from the County Ground; with Championship side Crystal Palace reportedly interested. Ritchie was the bright spark in what was otherwise a shocking season.

Last summer saw the avoidable exit of our captain and best defender Gordon Greer to eventual champions Brighton. Without the Scot the defence was a complete shambles and the £250,000 we received for Greer was the worse money Swindon have made in recent times.

I have been on the whole unconcerened by the exodus that I have seen this summer as most underperformed last season. In some cases such as Michael Rose and David Prutton I was relieved to see the back of them as they very poor signings on the whole.

Matt Ritchie, however is a different quantity entirely. He was far and away our best player and feel Di Canio alongside the board need to do all they can to ensure Ritchie remains at the County Ground.

Swindon are far away from being a Barcelona or Chelsea so departures of our better players can somewhat be inevitable. Although we did only sign Ritchie in January and that coupled with his professional attitude I believe he would be happy to stay.

The reality if the former Pompey man was to leave Swindon, is that his replacement won't be as strong. Who replaced Gordon Greer, Billy Paynter, Charlie Austin when they all left the club? They either didn't exist or were poor players in comparison.

With strikers clearly lacking as things stand you certainly can't ignore the fact Ritchie also scored seven goals. That is double what any other player who finished the season with Swindon managed to do.

I would imagine he is Paolo Di Canio's type of player; his fitness levels were twice that of many of his team mates last season. He has also reportely snubbed the sun lounger in favour of the gym equipment to remain in peak condition.

Jeremy Wray has assured supporters he won't be heading for the exit doors and I pray this is true. Matt Ritchie alongside Scot duo Paul Caddis and Simon Ferry are the three players that need to stay to push for promotion.

Action does speak louder than words though and if Matt Ritchie is sold, questions will be asked as to how serious the club are about bouncing back immediately.

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